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Donald Trump calls recounts a ‘scam’, points to Dems’ hypocrisy

President-Elect Donald Trump has vociferously dismissed as a “scam” recounts in three key electoral states launched by Green Party candidate Jill Stein and later joined by Hillary Clinton, a move Stein has not welcomed.

“Hillary Clinton conceded the election when she called me just prior to the victory speech and after the results were in,” Trump said in a tweet Sunday. “Nothing will change.”

He dismissed the recount bid as a “Green Party scam to fill up their coffers by asking for impossible recounts …now being joined by the badly defeated & demoralized Dems.”

Stein has raised $6.1 million in just four days to pay for recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. She filed with Wisconsin on Friday, where officials said the recount would soon begin and plans to file in the other states this week.

Trump narrowly defeated Clinton in all three Rust Belt states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, where he won by just 11,612 votes, the closest presidential contest in that state’s history.

Clinton would have to win all three states in the recount to receive 276 electoral votes to Trump’s 260. A total of 270 votes are needed to win the presidency. Trump now leads 306 to 232. The electors will vote in their state capitals on December 19. It is not clear if the three recounts would be finished by then.

Trump accused the Democrats of hypocrisy for joining the recount. “When they incorrectly thought they were going to win, asked that the election night tabulation be accepted. Not so anymore!”

He called out Clinton’s harsh reaction in the final debate to Trump saying he would have to look at the results before accepting them.

“Hillary’s debate answer on delay: ‘That is horrifying. That is not the way our democracy works. Been around for 240 years. We’ve had free and fair elections. We’ve accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them, and that is what must be expected of anyone … during a general election. I, for one, am appalled that somebody that is the nominee of one of our two major parties would take that kind of position.’ Then, separately she stated, ‘He said something truly horrifying … he refused to say that he would respect the results of his election. That is a direct threat to our democracy.'”

Trump also quoted Clinton saying, “We have to accept the results and look to the future, Donald Trump is going to be our President. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.”

“So much time and money will be spent – same result! Sad,” Trump tweeted.

After having remained silent since Stein launched the bid on Wednesday, the Clinton camp joined the effort on Saturday. But Stein is not welcoming them.

“Why would Hillary Clinton—who conceded the election to Donald Trump—want #Recount2016? You cannot be on-again, off-again about democracy,” she tweeted.

“Why would Hillary Clinton—who holds “public” and “private” positions—want to engage in something as transparent as #Recount2016?”

Stein says she called for the recount to fix an electoral system that is open to hacking and other manipulation. She also wants a total reform of American presidential politics.

She tweeted:

“Clinton + Trump: Want democracy? Enact a constitutional amendment prohibiting corporations from spending to influence elections. Eliminate all ballot access laws and rules that discriminate against smaller parties and independents. Enact proportional representation voting systems for legislative. We need automatic, mandatory precinct recounts for every election. offices—from the local to federal levels.”

Stein came under heavy criticism from her own supporters for choosing the three states that could give Clinton the presidency, should the count be overturned. If Stein’s intentions are pure, she seems to have been blind to the appearance it would create.

Clearly feeling the sting of this criticism, and now with $6 million to work with, Stein said she is open to recounts in other states, perhaps even those won narrowly by Clinton.

“I will do a recount in any state where the deadline has not passed. Help my staff find state deadlines,” she tweeted. “We’re open to hearing from experts regarding any state & pursuing voting integrity if deadlines permit.”

A quote from her on her campaign website, which was later removed, that the election had been hacked by “foreign agents” also lent fuel to the criticism that she was part of a Democratic plot, as Clinton has repeatedly accused Russia of trying to hack the election.

Stein hit back with a series of sarcastic tweets against allegations that she was in cahoots with the Democrats from the beginning and specifically to charges reverberating online that she is part of a plot by Democratic financier and political mastermind George Soros:

“#IfSorosPaidForTheRecount, my staffers say they’d… buy a better Obamacare plan.
#IfSorosPaidForTheRecount, my staffers say they’d… pay off their student loans.
#IfSorosPaidForTheRecount, my staffers say they’d… buy a new car.”

It appears that Stein may have been trying to use Democratic money to push for voting systems reform, while the Clintons appeared to trying to use Stein to get the recount started so Clinton wouldn’t look like a sore loser.

In joining the recount, Marc Elias, the Clinton campaign counsel, said the campaign decided to take part to discover whether there was “outside interference” in the results.

While overturning three state’s votes on recounts is highly unlikely, finding evidence of hacking of election computers, especially if they can somehow pin it on “foreign agents,” would be crucial for the Clinton team in their effort to lobby electors to change their vote. Clinton supporters have so far apparently made little headway in their efforts to get Republican electors to vote for Clinton instead. Twenty-four states do not legally bind electors to the popular vote in their states.

Russia has been blamed for many things in the U.S. and though proof never seems to be supplied, it is widely believed anyway.

But on Friday, the Obama administration appeared to be throwing a wrench into this plan when it said that despite fears, there was no evidence that Russia or anyone else had hacked the election.

An article in The Hill on Friday said there was a split within the Democratic Party about whether to go for a recount between the Clinton camp which was for it and the Obama’s camp, which was not. There is no love lost between Clinton and Obama. One email revealed by The Intercept said that Clinton still “hates” Obama for losing the 2008 nomination to him.

Trump, meanwhile, may want to turn his focus from the transition to the electoral college vote to shore up his support among his electors. One other thing Trump might consider is exploring recounts in states narrowly won by Clinton to possibly offset any reversals in the Rust Belt.

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Joe Lauria
Joe Lauria is a veteran foreign-affairs journalist based at the U.N. since 1990. He has written for the Boston Globe, the London Daily Telegraph, the Johannesburg Star, the Montreal Gazette, the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @unjoe.